Pipelines: Basics Explained

Pipelines are a vital part of our economy, transporting everything from oil and natural gas to water and other substances. Many use titanium pipe fittings. While most people know what pipelines are, few understand the complex system that makes them work. This article will provide an introduction to pipelines, explaining what they are, how they’re built, how they’re maintained, and why safety is such a high priority.

Pipelines are long, often underground systems that transport substances from one location to another. The substances they carry can be liquids (like oil or water) or gases (like natural gas or propane). Pipelines are an efficient and cost-effective way to move these substances over long distances. There are three main types of pipelines.

1. Transmission Pipelines

These are the largest pipelines and carry substances like oil, natural gas, and water over long distances (hundreds or even thousands of miles). Transmission pipelines usually operate at high pressures and can have diameters of several feet.

2. Gathering Pipelines

These pipelines collect substances like oil and natural gas from wells and other locations. They’re smaller than transmission pipelines and usually have diameters of a few inches.

3. Distribution Pipelines

These pipelines deliver substances like natural gas and water to homes and businesses. They’re the smallest type of pipeline, with diameters of just a few inches.

How They’re Built

Pipelines are built using a variety of methods, depending on the type of pipeline and the terrain it will cross. Transmission pipelines are often buried underground, while smaller gathering and distribution pipelines may be above ground. When lengths of pipe are joined, it’s often done with titanium pipe fittings.

Possible Safety Risks

Pipelines can pose a serious risk to public safety if they’re not properly maintained. In the United States, there are an average of 50 pipeline accidents each year, resulting in about $300 million in property damage. These accidents can cause injuries and even death. The most common cause of pipeline accidents is corrosion, which can weaken the pipe and lead to leaks or ruptures. That’s one reason titanium pipe fittings are so popular. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, natural gas distribution lines are responsible for 79% of injuries.

Despite the risks, pipelines remain the safest way to transport large volumes of liquids and gases over long distances. When they’re properly designed, constructed, operated, and maintained, pipelines pose little risk to the public. Contact us today to learn more about our pipe and pipe fitting options.

Our team is here to help yours

Our team can speak directly with engineers, offering product knowledge and specific guidance about which parts are most likely to get the job done to your specifications. We'll get you the quote that makes the most sense. Try us.

Get a free quote